Q is for the Queen in Chess

QFor some reason, there’s always been this kind of stigma about the game of Chess. And I’ve never understood why.

I grew up not only playing the game but studying it too. Dad taught us kids from an early age and was adamant we knew how to play. It made him really happy that we instantly took an interest in it. He was a really good player and loved anyone who was willing (and brave enough) to challenge him. He even said to us he’d give us £200 if we ever beat him.

It was instilled in me that the game was a powerful one, and often referred to as the game of life. The thought, consideration, calculation and strategy that goes into a game of Chess can – in my opinion – improve levels of concentration, boost problem-solving skills and develop thought processes. I know it did mine.

3373805307_f3727f7a35_zSo much goes into the game, which would explain why in some cases the game can go on forever. The feeling you get when you’ve won a game is like no other. It’s nothing like winning football or a computer game. Nothing at all. Especially when you’re playing against a worthy opponent.

There have been lots of discussions about favourite pieces in the game, from the rook to the bishop, to the lowly pawn. But, to me it’ll always be the Queen.

She is the most powerful piece in any game of Chess. What she lacks in value (the game can continue without her), she makes up for with mobility, because unlike any other piece, she can move any number of squares vertically, horizontally, or diagonally.

ornate_chess_king_by_misasugar-d3invyfEach player starts the game with one Queen, placed next to the King. Sometimes, because of her value, she is used as bait to lure an opponent into a trap through a Queen sacrifice. Others often use the Queen to threaten the opponent’s Queen, to either retreat or make a queen trade (losing both of them) so the game is left with less-powerful pieces.

The Queen is at her most powerful when the board is open, when the enemy King is not well-defended, or when there are undefended pieces in the enemy camp. She is well-equipped to move in multiple directions and can execute forks thanks to her long range, making her less restricted and more powerful also in closed positions.

There is however, a huge role reversal in the real world as we know it, and American author Marilyn Yalom recognised the contradiction of the game in her book the Birth of The Chess Queen. She asked:

How did [the chess queen] come to dominate the chessboard when, in real life, women are almost alway sin a position of secondary power?

Apparently, the chess board once lacked a Queen altogether: in India, Persia and the Arab crescent, early chess included only male figures, the closest thing to the queen being the “vizier.” Yalom said the appearance of the Queen in the game coincided with the Arab invasion of Europe and the Christianisation of the game was dominated by the idea of a woman being an aid to the King. But how did the Queen become so powerful if she was only an aid? Yalom said this could be influenced by a series of strong European Queens during the centuries.

In any case, it’s nice to see the empowerment of women in such an important game of life. I remember winning the Chess Championships in first year of secondary school…it might not have seemed cool to my friends but when I got home, the look of pride on my Dad’s face made it all worth it.

Just a shame I never got to win that £200 from him.

Anyone fancy a challenge?


|| Part of the A to Z Challenge ||

A post a day except Sunday for the month of April to cover topics beginning with each letter of the alphabet.

Previously on A to Z:

P is for Paleo

N is for Norwegian Trolls

M is for (not) Making Friends

L is for Love (cue puke)

K is for Keyser Soze

J is for Jiminy Cricket

I is for Investigative Journalism

H is for Hibernate

G is for the Great South Run

F is for The Fureys

E is for Everlasting Gobstoppers

D is for Derren Brown

C is for Coffee

B is for Bill Bailey

A is for Avocado


11 responses to “Q is for the Queen in Chess

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